Aisha: Why winning 5 LGAs out of 16 cannot make you ‘Governor-Elect’, by Gani Bako

Aisha Alhassan, trying to unseat Gov Ishaku
Aisha Alhassan, trying to unseat Gov Ishaku

A certain narrative enjoying media attention is that Aisha Alhassan is a very popular politician who some powerful forces in Taraba want to stop. That she is a rising star and a model of women in power like Hilary Clinton who suffers from male chauvinism. There is also the erroneous view that she actually won the last Taraba State governorship election which some people want to steal from her. Some experts have also smuggled in the gender issue trying to rally Nigerian women behind Aisha who is being touted, if the succeeds, as Nigeria’s first female governor. The impression being created is that Nigeria’s women are on the verge of finally breaking the glass ceiling. It is such a powerful prospect that many well meaning but unsuspecting citizens have bought into the fallacy. It is a deception of satanic proportion, designed to mislead the unsuspecting.

The truth however is far from this picture of a genial old woman about to make history. For sure Aisha has some things going for her. She is a lawyer who was brought in by the PDP government of Governor Jolly Nyame who appointed her Commissioner of Justice. It was from that position that mother luck shone on her. She eventually rose to become the registrar of the FCT High Court.  Returning to Taraba politics years later, Governor Suntai ensured she became Senator against all odds. It was from here Aisha believed she can become governor and ran for office.  She failed and was compensated with a ministerial appointment in the Buhari administration .

Fact check: Aisha is not as popular as many say or think she is. Her popularity is a myth looming large especially outside the state. On the field in Taraba during the election, Aisha sparingly won only five local governments. And even those are well known traditional opposition centers whose voting history reveal that they always vote against the ruling PDP. They were low hanging fruits for her and she grabbed them easily. All other show of strength and the footages of a crowd puller are the gimmicks of photo shoppers and creative image makers. And of course, the usual central media fuelled APC’s propaganda.

The moniker of “mama Taraba”  is also a ploy to make her a populist figure. Now, no one is taking away from Aisha her modest following, especially among some women in Taraba. But her strong hold in the state remains those solitary five local governments mostly in the Northern zone and a sprinkling of the central zone. The PDP on the other hand has an overwhelming hold across the state. In the last election, the PDP produced practically all state and National Assembly members. It currently has two Senators. And it certainly produced the governor, irrespective of who the candidate is.

Elections are won on the platforms of parties.

The APC is not such a powerful platform in Taraba regardless of its fortunes at the national level. And if you were APC’s candidate in Taraba State, you were certainly limited by the low profile status of the party. Such is the case of Aisha. She did not just contest on the basis of her supposedly popularity or feminist posture. She was a politician standing on a platform.  And the majority of Taraba electorate happen to prefer the PDP. The party swept a whopping eleven local government areas. And its candidate, Arc. Darius Ishaku won convincingly. The implication of this is that although the idea of a female governor is a good one, the voters in Taraba have spoken. They prefer Darius Ishaku. And this is a democracy where the majority have it their way.

What Aisha is therefore currently doing is to try and FORCE HISTORY TO HAPPEN. If she cannot make history happen on the field, then it has to happen through technicalities: court orders, media, and pressure groups. And with that powerful element: female power! Unfortunately, these are not democratic ways of clinching power. If you want to become governor, you canvass for votes and win it on the field. What is more, some Nigerians are desirous to see their “first female governor”,  even if it is by appointment. Aisha is frantically appealing to that demography who are shouting themselves hoarse that Aisha should be “dashed” the governorship. But how can we do that?

How can we dash her the governorship when only a fraction of the electorate voted for her? Is it because she is a woman? Or is it because Nigerians want to see their first female governor? What about the majority of voters in Taraba who stood in the rains and harsh sun to vote for the governor of their choice? Would it not amount to an imposition if Aisha is forced on the people?

We are therefore appealing to Nigerians of good will to come to our rescue in Taraba and hear us out. We didn’t vote for Aisha. No one should appoint her a governor over us through the back door. Doing that would mean telling the hundreds of thousands of voters who voted for the current governor that their vote carries no weight! In a democracy?

Gani Bako

PRO

TMG

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